Five Revolutionary Gear Selectors that Shift the Way We Shift
“Get it in gear, damnit!” Have you ever yelled these words out to yourself while trying to learn to drive stick? Or perhaps you are not a neophyte to the row-your-own shifter, but are dealing with an older car, without synchomesh, making the process of getting the car in gear a daunting one. To take your mind off that problem, we can take you along while we look at five unique gear selectors from past and present. Three on a Tree
Those of us who are old enough can remember when virtually everyone had a pickup with column shifting. The pattern went something like this: step on the clutch, then pull the stick to you and up for reverse; pull it to you and down for first; push it away from you and down for second; and, finally, away from you and up for third. That was it; three forward gears and the joys of a simpler life. While the exact pattern differed from one model to the next, the basic technique was always the same. Here’s a YouTube video that shows how it works, along with a glimpse at some real down-home folks.
People in the 1930s had fewer distractions when they were driving. There was less traffic on the roads and no idiots trying to text and steer at the same time. That may be why they had the presence of mind to operate this interesting gear selector, which required a bit of forethought before changing speeds. While the design might seem needlessly complex, it also has a touch of retro elegance to it that’s worth appreciating.
I had a ’64 Plymouth Belvedere in college with one of these beauties installed in it. It operated just like it sounds: push the button for the gear you want and give it the gas. Perhaps it was inspired by all the talk of a coming “push button age” during the 1950s.
Spyker C8 Exposed Shifter
PHOTOS: See more of the 2005 Spyker C8 Spyder
So you are in the market for an uber-rare supercar, powered by an Audi V8 and with a sticker price upwards of $380,000 (on the low end)? A simple manual shifter interface simply won't due. This is shifter is the pinnacle of form and function. It has the aesthetic of a removed rifle bolt, dipped in chrome. Good luck actually driving the C8 when you're spending your time staring at this shifter.
Electric Gear Selector
I’m guessing this is intended for physically challenged drivers who have trouble shifting into gear the conventional way. Acura says this selector is meant to have a very natural feel. German luxury brands claim the proprietary shifter is meant to give the owner a "secret handshake" with the car. That PR-speak for "impress and confuse your poorer friends." Within 5-10 years, every automaker will have their own unique shifter, so look out!
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Image Credit: Hemmings, Car and Driver